Eala, Balce advance in Phinma-PSC netfest


Michael Francis Eala and Manuel Balce bundled out their Hong Kong rivals in contrasting fashions as they saved the day for the local bets, who took a beating in Day 2 of the Phinma-PSC International Juniors Tennis Championships Week 1 at the Rizal Memorial Tennis Center on Wednesday.

Eala seized control early with his baseline game then went on to overpower Kyle Tang, 6-2, 6-3, in the upper half other of the 32-player boys’ draw of the Grade 4 ITF (International Tennis Federation) 18-under category event sponsored by the Phinma Group of Companies and the Philippine Sports Commission.

Balce, on the other hand, battled back from a set down to repulse Max Lee, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4, and arrange a second round duel with second seed Seita Watanabe of Japan, who trounced Thai Natthasith Kunsuwan, 6-2, 6-1.

Eala will next play the winner in the Kazuki Shimizu-Pawin Jirapoomdahe duel for a spot in the quarterfinal round of the top-ranking tournament backed by Mariposa Foundation, Technifibre and Century Park Hotel.

Eala and Balce’s victories kept the local hopes alive after seven others took the early exit in the first of two week-long tournaments staking 40 ITF (International Tennis Federation) ranking points to the winner and 30 to the runner-up.

They included top seed Bryan Otico, who failed to recover from a slow start in his rain-halted match with Japanese qualifier Keisuke Saitoh, 4-6, 0-1; Tuesday, dropping a 4-6, 3-6 loss at resumption; Arthur Pantino, who blew a 6-5 lead in the second set and lost to Japanese Fumiya Yoshino, 3-6, 6-7(3); wild card Justin Suarez, who lost steam and dropped a 3-6, 4-6 setback to India’s Digvijay Singh;

Jerome Romualdez, who succumbed to Korean Xeonho Shin, 0-6, 2-6; wild card Jacob Martin, who yielded a 0-6, 6-1 loss to Japanese Ryoma Matsushita; and Stephan Lhuillier, who fell short to Thai Nutdanai Sinchaeroenwattan, 4-6, 4-6.

Jhastine Ballado also dropped a sorry 5-7, 3-6 loss to Mia Wong of Hong Kong in one of the two completed matches in the girls’ side.

Chasing spots into the next round at presstime are girls’ top seed Khim Iglupas, Shaira Rivera, Rafaella Villanueva, Miles Vitaliano, Frances Santiago, Amanda Zoleta and Frances Santiago.

Meanwhile, the PSC-Phinma IJTC Week 2 will be held November 22 to 27 with the qualifying sign-in on Nov. 19 from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., also c/o Rawi and the qualifying matches set November 20 to 21.


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